University of Toronto WearComp Linux Project

Dr. Mann describes his WearComp (“Wearable Computer”) invention and how it has evolved into the same kind of philosophical basis for self determination and mastery over one's own destiny that is characteristic of the Linux operating system that currently runs on WearComp.
Solution to Software Fascism

The first solution to these problems is a framework called Completely Open Source, Headers, Engineering, and Research (COSHER). Before investing considerable time in learning how to use new software and in developing works for that new software, which may then become locked into a particular file format, we ask ourselves a very simple question: is the software in question COSHER?

This means that there has been no deliberate attempt at obfuscation of the underlying principles of the operation of this software or in preventing us from freely distributing the intellectual foundations upon which we may invest many years of our lives. Deliberate attempts at obfuscation include such practices as eliminating source code and stripping executable task images.

By using COSHER software, we are making a statement that we prefer Computer Science to Computer Secrecy. Science supports the basic principles of peer review, a continued development and advancement of software principles and principles that we build on top of the software.

Moreover, the time we invest in learning the software as well as creating works in the software will be less likely to go to waste if we have a copy of the complete source code of the software. In this manner, should the software ever become discontinued or unsupported, we will be able to become our own software support group and migrate the software forward to new architectures as our old computers become obsolete. If it is COSHER, chances are we will be less likely to lose the many hours or years we invest in producing works within the software. Furthermore, if we make new discoveries that are built on a foundation of COSHER software, they are easier to distribute.

In science, it is important that others be able to reproduce our results. Imagine what it would be like if we had built our results on top of DOS 3.1. Others would have to either rewrite our software to exactly reproduce our results, or find an old version of DOS 3.1. Since this is proprietary software, we are not at liberty to freely distribute it with our research, but it is also no longer available for purchase. However, if we had built our work on COSHER software such as Linux 1.13, we can include a full distribution of Linux 1.13 in an archive together with our results. Many years in the future, a scientist wishing to reproduce our results could then obtain a virtual machine (emulator for our specific architecture which will no doubt be obsolete by then) and install the COSHER operating system (Linux 1.13) that came with our archive, then compile and run our programs.

The Linux operating system is a good example of a COSHER operating system. GNU software is also COSHER. Many COSHER software packages are available, including GIMP (Gnu Image Manipulation Program) and the VideoOrbits software package (described in http://wearcam.org/orbits/index.html).

Solution to Environmental Intelligence Gathering

I propose a computational framework for individual personal empowerment. This framework is based on my “WearComp” invention—an apparatus for (embodiment of) realization of HI.

This framework involves designing a new kind of personal space. An embodiment of the “WearComp” invention is an apparatus that is owned, operated and controlled by the occupant of that space. In one sense, the apparatus of this invention is like a building built for one occupant and collapsed down around that one occupant.

WearComp as a Basis for HI

I invented WearComp in Canada in the 1970s as a photographic tool for the visual arts (see Resources 5), in particular, something I called “mediated reality” (altered perception of visual reality). The goal of mediated reality, unlike related concepts such as virtual (or augmented) reality, was to reconfigure (augment, deliberately diminish or otherwise alter) the perception of reality in order to attain a heightened awareness of how ordinary, everyday objects respond to light.

HI is a new form of human-computer interaction comprising a computer that is subsumed into the personal space of the user (e.g., the computer may be worn, hence the term “user” and “wearer” of the computer are interchangeable), controlled by the wearer, with both operational and interactional constancy (e.g., it is always on and always ready and accessible [see Resources 6]).

The WearComp invention, described in IEEE Computer, Vol. 30, No. 2 at http://wearcomp.org/ieeecomputer.htm (a historical account was given in IEEE ISWC-97, October 1997 and is also on-line at http://wearcomp.org/historical/index.html) forms the basis for HI. The evolution of the apparatus of this invention is depicted in Figure 1.

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